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Taliban kill leader of ISIS cell that bombed Kabul airport

Over the past two years, the Taliban have waged a severe campaign against ISIS-K in Afghanistan. So far, their security services have effectively prevented the group from seizing territory or recruiting large numbers of ex-Taliban fighters who were bored in peacetime — one of the worst-case scenarios since the fall of Afghanistan’s Western-backed government.

Still, in the absence of U.S. airstrikes and Afghan commando attacks that killed many of its leaders, ISIS-K has spread from its original stronghold in eastern Afghanistan to nearly all 34 countries in the country, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. provinces. The group has also carried out major suicide attacks on government buildings and foreign embassies in Kabul.

The attacks have dented the peaceful image the Taliban are trying to paint of Afghanistan under their rule, the country’s first relative calm in 40 years and a hallmark promise of the new Taliban government. While some officials in the Taliban government have touted the success of the raid on the alleged ISIS-K hideout, others have categorically denied the presence of ISIS-K in the country.

In February 2022, a Pentagon report concluded that an ISIS suicide bomber carried out the attack at the airport’s convent gate. The findings of an Army-led team of investigators contradicted an initial report from top U.S. commanders that militants at the airport opened fire on crowds seeking to flee the country and caused some casualties.

The report also exempted the Marines from firing into the crowd at the Abbey Gate, as some officials suspected, because of the large amount of ammunition the Marines fired after the Aug. 26 attack.

The Islamic State identified the suicide bomber as Abdul Rahman Logari. He was one of thousands of militants released from at least two high-security prisons after the Taliban took control of Kabul 11 ​​days before the attack, U.S. officials said. The Taliban emptied these facilities indiscriminately, freeing not only their own prisoners but also ISIS-K fighters.

Perhaps America’s biggest blunder after the Abbey Gate bombing will come three days later. On Aug. 29, U.S. officials, fearing another suicide bomber would hit the airport, launched a drone strike that hit a white Toyota that may have contained water cans rather than explosives. The officials who called the strike were unaware of video showing at least one child in the area two minutes before the strike.

In the end, 10 civilians, including 7 children, were killed.

Karen Demirjian Reporting from Washington, and Eric Schmidt From Portland, Oregon. Christina Goldbaum Reports from London.

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